A Greyhound Is Not A Cat
A greyhound is not a cat. Obvious, you say. Apparently, it isn't obvious to everyone. Within ten days recently, two dogs were adopted and returned by two sets of people who had cats but never had a dog before. Both sets of people had multiple cats. One couple had six cats, the other had several as well. Both sets of people when returning the dogs said that they did not realize how much work and responsibility dogs were compared to cats. The realization that the dog needs to be walked to relieve itself was a major problem for these people. These were not the first cases where dogs were returned by cat owners. Because these cases occurred so close together and under similar circumstances, the need for a warning to potential adopters became evident.
I am not sure why some devoted cat lovers decide to adopt a dog. Many times I think they are well intentioned and wish to help a homeless dog. I think that greyhounds are often attractive to 'cat people" because they are superficially feline in some qualities. For example, if you watch a greyhound stretch out after a nice nap, you will see a posture very similar to a stretching cat. Greyhounds can move in ways more fluid and catlike than most breeds of dogs. These superficial similaries should not cloud the line between canine and feline. A greyhound is a dog, with all of the social and biological requirements of dogs. Cat people are used to an animal that can tolerate affection but can often do without the social contact. Cats can be left alone for periods of time that are unthinkable with dogs. They can go in and outdoors on their own. They can use a litter box indoors and don't need to be walked to relieve themselves. They may be happy to see their owners when they return home, but after the appropriate greeting, they often go about their own business. Cats are not highly social; dogs are. Dogs require social contact just as strongly as they require food and water.
If you have cats, and have been thinking of bringing a dog into your family, please consider the differences seriously. Examine your lifestyle. Are you frequently away from home for long hours - more than 4-5 hours per day? If so, would you obtain the services of a dog walker? If you are not willing to do that, a greyhound is not for you. Can you make a commitment to a high maintenance pet? Dogs require much of your time. They need to be walked to relieve themselves, exercised, fed, played with, groomed, taken to the vet on a regular basis, and given lots of attention. Did I mention they need to be walked several times a day to relieve themselves? Retired racing greyhounds need time and patience from their owners as they adjust to their new homes. They require house-breaking, and they need to learn how to live in a house - to climb stairs, relax around new noises, get in and out of a car, eat, drink and sleep in new places, be left alone. This takes a little bit of work, and a lot of commitment. Be honest with yourself about the type of person you are, and the type of lifestyle you lead.
Dogs don't fit in to everyones' lives. If you can't make the kind of time commitment required for dogs, then stay with a pet who requires less. It is devastating to an adopted greyhound to be returned to the kennel. Search your soul before you adopt. If you are not sure if a greyhound is right for you, email your concerns and we will be happy to offer advice. Do not make the mistake of thinking you can try out a dog and return the greyhound if it does not fit into your life like your cats do. If you are seriously interested in a greyhound, but are not sure, try baby-sitting for a friend's dog for a weekend or while they are on vacation. That way you can get some first hand experience without causing any trauma to a potential adoptee. The differences between cats and dogs offer choices for pet owners. Some people love to have both, other people prefer one over the other. If you have cats, and have never had dogs before and are considering a retired racer, do your homework first. We adopt many greyhounds to families with cats, and it can work out well. But it won't if your expectation is that the dog's requirements are the same as a cat. We would love to have you adopt one of our wonderful greyhounds, but only if and when you are ready to make a commitment to the greyhound for life.
By Deborah Schildkraut
With special thanks to Pumpkin and Po